PC: Brook Cagle
I’ve done some pretty ridiculous things over the years that some might call dumb. Or silly. Or crazy.
One time, when I was leaving Sevilla, Spain to travel on to Tel Aviv, Israel I HAD to get to the Spanish post office to ship a suitcase home to the USA the night before I left Europe. So with about 2 minutes till the post office closed, I ran through the city, brandishing a sword in front of me that I bought in Toledo, Spain, which I also had to ship and had no box for, dragging a 60lb suitcase behind me that didn’t even have wheels. Spaniards thought I was a crazy American, ducking and tripping out of my way as I yelled “!Perdoname!” through crowds with the sword in front, suitcase bumping along in tow praying there was a line at the post office and it would be open late.
Another time, when I lived in Southern California, I pulled off the freeway to the exit on my way home. Waiting for traffic to slow down, so I could merge and join them, I inched forward with my car. As I looked left to make sure it was safe to merge, a man who was homeless, dehydrated, and in need of hospital care stumbled across the intersection and collapsed on my car. A homeless man on my car in the middle of an intersection! I didn’t know what to do.
Another day more recently, I ran bra-less through town trying to find a present for a bridal shower that started in two hours. I didn’t have a bra because it had been about 5 weeks that I had done laundry. So I had to buy a new bra, and a present, and pretend like I didn’t have a hangover as I showed up a flustered mess wearing the previous nights makeup to this shower. Oh yeah, and I arrived an hour late to the party because I got lost on my way. Even though I had GPS and it was in my hometown.
I’ve crossed lines with people and relationships, started things that I can’t finish, and wondered what the heck am I doing with my life most of the time.
And while this has been going on, I’ve smiled and laughed, and even had fun, not realizing the problem till after the fact, only then asking God for help to deal with my heart as I’ve felt guilty to the world around me in my mistakes.
During one such prayer, it occurred to me that at least part of what I’ve been dealing with is why Jesus called the Pharisees “hypocrites” in Mathew 23:27. They were more concerned about their image than their own hearts and souls. And like them, I prayed that God would protect my image and reputation… that was my biggest worry in the moment.
So then I realized not only do I choose sin, let people walk all over me, but also the cherry on top, I’ve been a hypocrite too worried more about my image than anything else! Wow. Praise the Lord I have any friends at all after some of my ups and downs.
But the beauty is, I DO have friends. Some really great ones that sprinkle truth, encouragement, and understanding for the decisions I make. And through it all I’ve been learning about myself– that I’m not as strong as I think I am. That sometimes I’m a hot mess. And that I’ve been putting myself in a box with what I think I want in life.
Beyond that though, I’ve been learning about God– that He is faithful, doing WORK in me to answer some pretty major heart prayers. That He has me right where He wants me at this point in life. Mostly I’ve been learning alllll about His grace and mercy.
You see what is grace and mercy without sin? Grace and mercy mean everything because of sin, not in spite of it.
In years past when I’ve messed up, I’ve wallowed in it, living in guilt like a rat in a sewer afraid to come out to the light of day.
But not this time. I realize now that I live in a sinful world and it is inevitable that I will find myself messing up. And it isn’t tragic to the point of wallowing away like sewer rats. It’s human. I am human as you are, and that is why we need a Deity to come down to the crap that humanity has made the world, to rescue us, and to pull us out. We need a God. And the God who calls me His daughter was and is willing to do just that! With all of His grace and all of His mercy…
How AMAZING that my Best Friend since I was 5 years old when I asked Jesus to come save me, is even better than the friends I call up, text, or grab a drink with to talk about the latest life lessons! With Jesus, I don’t have to explain myself. I get to bring my depressing, crappy issues to His feet- that He immediately, no questions asked, begins to Build, Restore, Teach, Edify, Encourage, and the Laugh with me about.
I’m honored and humbled that He loves me that much. That He shows me my blind spots in real life situations. That this weekend, or last, or the one before that are not where my life ends, but are building blocks to the next season. And His heart is all about restoring me back to Himself for His own glory. I have the faith of a mustard seed to move on- chasing rainbows, dreams, and promises that He’ll fulfill saturated with grace and mercy flowing down.
“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).
I don’t have all the answers, but that is the whole point in not being perfect. I’m not supposed to have all the answers. God tests us, He lets us choose paths, He lets us make decisions, He opens doors at the right times, and He redeems the messes we make, if we let Him.
Sometimes I spill coffee on myself in the car. Or bite my nails when I’m nervous. Or buy new bras because all of my current ones are dirty. And even as a 25 year old grown woman, I broke a vase of my mom’s and tried to hide it. But I realize when I let go of trying to be perfect, He can finally work and reveal to me the truth of who I really am– a forgiven daughter of the King. The bottom line is: I’m not perfect and I’m done trying to live some image of myself who tries to be. So in choosing not to be perfect by my standards, I am FINALLY allowing Him to move in me with all of His.
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me” (Philippians 3:12).